The latest filing deadline for fundraising reports in the presidential campaigns was Saturday night, and the totals are staggering.
President Obama and the Democratic Party's grand total is just north of $900 million dollars for the current cycle, while Mitt Romney and the Republicans topped $800 million. Both sides are on track to raise and spend $1 billion by Election Day.
The totals through the end of September reported to the Federal Election Commission don't even count the hundreds of millions of dollars raised and spent by superPACs. Nor do they include hundreds of millions more from mainly Republican tax-exempt groups.
"The money that's being spent in a handful of places is utterly ridiculous," says Republican John Weaver, a former top strategist to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
It was McCain who co-authored the campaign-finance law that was largely gutted by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which opened the door to big money.
Weaver warns that donors, Democrats and Republicans, are not signing five, six, even eight-figure checks out of the goodness of their hearts; they want something, like a new law or changes to regulations.
"There's no other reason to give that kind of money, and people who want to suggest otherwise are not telling us the truth," he says.
Predating Citizens United, however, it was Obama himself who in 2008 became the first major-party candidate to forgo federal financing and the spending limits that come with it.
This year, that limit would have been $91 million, but neither candidate took the deal. Both had well over that amount in the bank going into October and continued holding fundraisers.
"They're spending all of this time cloistered in fancy hotel conference rooms and penthouse apartments," says Sheila Krumholz, who runs the Center for Responsive Politics.
"If they're spending time in Manhattan or Beverley Hills, that means they're not spending time with and answering the questions of voters in swing states," she says.
On the trail Saturday, neither candidate had any public events as they prepped for Monday's debate. But Romney did take some time out Saturday night, for another high-dollar fundraiser.
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.